Welcome to Jewish Voice for Peace’s monthly Health and Human Rights Media Watch. Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here.
A life redefined by a tear gas canister
Defense of Children International 22 July 2019-On January 11, 2019, a 13-year-old boy from the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza went to see a performance of dance, karate, and kung fu near where the Great March of Return demonstrations were to start. As a confrontation broke out between Israeli soldiers and Gazans, the young boy noticed that something (later determined to be a tear gas canister) struck his right shoulder. He was bleeding profusely and brought to Al-Awda hospital where he was operated on for two fractures in his right shoulder as well as likely nerve damage.
His injuries required three surgeries and he has permanent nerve damage. This has seriously impacted school and social life. His story is not unique as documented by the Defense of Children International Palestine (DCIP) which on January 11, 2019, submitted a report to the UN detailing death and permanent disability of Palestinian child protestors at the hands of Israeli forces. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 350 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces between July 2-15, 2019.
Israel’s permanent siege of Gaza
Middle East Research Information Project Spring 2019 by Ron Smith-Excellent review of the policies and costs of the decades-long siege of Gaza. Sanctions and siege regimes are woefully ineffective at regime change but consistently and reliably effective at dismantling the infrastructure of society and impoverishing targeted populations. Israel directly targets medical infrastructure by destroying facilities, vehicles and health practitioners themselves. It also denies the import of material needed for the maintenance and development of health systems that must serve 2 million incarcerated people.
Child labor increasing in Gaza
OCHA 14 May 2019-OCHA documents increasing food insecurity and rising unemployment and child labor. Two-thirds of households in Gaza experience severe or moderate levels of food insecurity. The unemployment rate rose from 44 percent (2017) to 52 percent (2018). The need to secure daily expenses has led to an uptick in child labor rates, including in hazardous occupations.
Casualties In The Context Of Demonstrations And Hostilities In Gaza
OCHA OPT 1 July 2019-The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released updated data on Palestinian casualties during the Great March of Return at the Gaza border: between 30 March 2018 and 31 May 2019, 205 Palestinians were killed, including 44 children/youth, and 32,124 were injured, including 7,063 children/youth. An excellent graphic from OCHA.
Medics need miracles to stay alive in Gaza
Electronic Intifada by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh 19 July 2019-On May 3, 2019, Palestinian medic Muhammad al-Judaili was working at the Great March of Return in Gaza. When he rushed to help an injured child, he was shot in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet by an Israeli sniper. He died on June 10 at age 36, leaving his widow and four children.
Permission denied: Gaza children struggle to get medical care
+972 Magazine by Jen Marlowe 20 June 2019-With severe medicine shortages and an overstretched health care system in Gaza, children in need of medical treatments can only find them outside the Strip. Israel’s convoluted, arbitrary permit process leaves them waiting in pain, often missing life-saving care.
Female Patients from Gaza endangered by Israel’s medical exit permit policy
The Lancet by Dana Moss, Mor Efrat, Dani Filc and Nadav Davidovitch August 2019-UN resolutions 1325 and 1889 recognize that violent conflicts affect women and men differently. They call on states and civil society organizations to assess the unique needs of women in conflict and post-conflict areas. After 11 years of blockade, Gaza’s health-care system is nearing collapsing; requiring patients to travel outside of Gaza for medical care when none is locally available. To leave Gaza, they must undergo a lengthy bureaucratic process. Since 2013, there have been increasing restrictions on medical exit permits by the Israeli authorities with only 54 percent of patients successfully applying for a medical exit permit in 2017, compared with 92 percent in 2012.
When Israel bombed the building for the General Union of Disabled Palestinians
The Electronic Intifada 15 July 2019-Since their office was bombed in May 2019, the General Union of Disabled Palestinians based in Rafah, southern Gaza, has been struggling to resume psychological support and job assistance services. The union provided services for more than 1,000 people with disabilities in Rafah. They included around 80 people who were injured during the Great March of Return, 24 of whom had undergone amputations.
Israel forces spraying Gaza farmland with herbicide, multiple health consequences.
The Electronic Intifada 23 July 2019-Thousands of acres of land have been damaged, water contaminated, grazing animals died, and there are probably negative health consequences to consumption or inhalation. Roundup is suspected to be carcinogenic and the use of herbicides may violate the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Israeli army detains a child for nearly a year without charges
Defense of Children International 9 July 2019-In August 2018 Israeli forces released 18-year old Laith K who spent nearly 47 weeks in military detention without being formally charged with a crime. The prolonged detention forced him to miss his final year of high school. UN human rights bodies including the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee Against Torture expressed concern over Israel’s use of administrative detention and prosecution of children in military tribunals.
Residents of West Bank village in shock after Israeli snipers shoot 10-year-old boy in the head
Mondoweiss by Yumna Patel 15 July 2019-On July 12, Israeli soldiers shot a 10-year-old Palestinian boy in the head with live ammunition during protests against settlement expansion in the town of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank. The boy was gravely wounded and is fighting for his life in a hospital in the West Bank. Residents of Kafr Qaddum have been holding weekly protests for the last nine years against the closure of the main road to the city of Nablus due to an expansion of nearby settlements. During an investigation of the incident by human rights group B’Tselem, the military falsely claimed they had not used live ammunition. Read more here: People’s Dispatch
Electronic Intifada, +972.
Daily life under occupation in Hebron: Israeli military denies Red Crescent ambulance access to Tel Rumeidah to evacuate a Palestinian patient
B’Tselem 15 July 2019-A member of a Palestinian family which was being harassed by soldiers, Border Police, and settlers suffered heat stroke (a life-threatening emergency). When his fever rose dramatically, his wife called for an ambulance. The ambulance never arrived because the IDF blocked its access to the patient’s home and ordered it to turn around. The paramedics were ultimately able to arrive on foot, 75 minutes after the initial call.
Palestinian dies in solitary confinement in an Israeli jail
Al Jazeera 16 July 2019-A Palestinian prisoner, Nassar Taqatqa, 31, who was detained in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison died nearly a month after his arrest in late June. Palestinian sources said they were challenging an Israeli autopsy that reported Taqata died of a stroke.
The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territory released “Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019”
OCHA OPT 17 December 2018-It states that the reduction in US funding is causing an estimated reduction in the number of Palestinians served by 500,000 (from 1.9 to 1.4 million). The shortfall requires that top priority needs only be addressed.
Addameer’s lawyers visit three prisoners on hunger strike in solitary confinement
Addameer 24 July 2019-Addameer lawyers visited three Palestinians in Israeli prisons who are on hunger strike on July 22, 2019. They reported on their deteriorating health and conditions in solitary confinement. The attorneys called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and global advocates to demand attention and support for these and other Palestinian hunger strikers protesting administrative detention.
Israeli Nurses Go on Nationwide Strike Over Labor Shortages.
Haaretz Ido Efrati 23 July 2019-The Israeli nurses’ union called for a strike on Tuesday, 23 July 2019, to protest severe staffing shortages and a new accreditation process that they say imposes impossible conditions on working nurses. All public health facilities will be operating on an emergency basis. Nurses Association talks with Health Minister Ben Siman Tov broke down yesterday. According to Ilana Cohen, head of the nurses’ union, the new process imposes an intolerable workload at the expense of patient care.
One in 5 Israeli Psychiatric Hospital Patients Are Readmitted within a Month of Their Discharge
Haaretz by Ido Efrati 23 July 2019-Twenty-one to-25 percent of patients in Israel released from in-patient psychiatric treatment in 2018 were readmitted within 30 days. Differences were regional and tended to be much lower in general hospitals with psychiatric wards than in psychiatric hospitals, perhaps due to differences in a patient’s profile. A lack of transitional support and services was noted by the Health Ministry’s new report; in addition, a significant percentage of mental health patients also had physical health problems that were unaddressed by the system.